Friday, February 9, 2007

Things Hoped For

I just finished (while showering ... see what I mean about the listening in the bathroom?) Andrew Clements' Things Hoped For, narrated by Nancy Wu. I hoped for great things from this book, as I just really enjoyed its "prequel," Things Not Seen.

Bobby Philips, the hero of Not Seen, shows up about halfway through Hoped For -- and there is a poorly tacked on reprise of the whole invisibility situation that is the main story of Not Seen. But this is really the story of Gwen Page, young violinist -- transplanted from West Virginia to New York City for intensive training in her instrument -- as she prepares for her college entrance auditions. But her beloved grandfather -- in whose fabulous Upper West Side brownstone she is living -- has mysteriously vanished.

This is a small meditative piece -- full of introspection about musicians, music, ambition, family (and other) love. Nancy Wu gives Gwen a sweet, thoughtful young voice -- with a suitable twang -- that is most appealing. But the story isn't a great one and the narration doesn't transcend it out of its ordinariness.

It reminded me a lot of Virginia Euwer Wolff's (when is that woman going to publish the third in the Make Lemonade series?) The Mozart Season. So it might have appeal to those who enjoyed that. But those of us who really liked Things Not Seen are bound to be disappointed, I think; and those who haven't read that first story are going to be a wee bit confused.

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